Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Thought About The Social Consequences?

Written by: on November 13, 2015

Why You Asking All These Questions?

Finding the book   10-symptons-of-social-media-obsession-and-addiction11-300x266Social History of the Media by Burke and Briggs on kindle was impossible so if you are reading this it means you have evolved in the technological era. What sacrifice did you make to be online because I did not print this blog? Are you reading this during a social inconvenience just to meet a deadline? Right now, I’d love to be sitting in a classroom with my peers but this is more convenient right now. Convenience sometimes comes with consequences.


What is Communication?

Transactional_comm_modelTo create a quality framework for the understanding of this book, we must first define communication. “Communication is defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning.”[1] We find four key words: process, understanding, sharing and meaning. Process is an activity that changes. Example…you are having dinner at a restaurant by yourself just to have some alone time but your mom walks in and sits at your table and you start talking. What just changed? Imagine if a total stranger walks in and sits next to your mom during your conversation without ever saying a word. What has changed? When we interact, our perspective influences the process of communication.

Understanding has to do with how we relate to information presented. If I told you, I fell of my bed while sleeping. What comes to mind? Sharing occurs when we convey our feelings or insights with each other. Meaning has to do with what we share through communication. The word “bike” is used interchangeably to mean bicycle or motorcycle but asking questions allows us to discover the context or meaning of the word.

Communication involves an interaction between participants: the giver and receiver of the information being communicated. Over 100 years and we still speak of the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Most of us were not involved in the movement but we became recipient of the information. This brings us to a key element of communication, process.

Briggs and Burke

the-world-before-social-media-131While I could look at the different components of communication, let us look at the overall focus of the book. This book focuses on process of communication. Communication media has both emerged and evolved within social and cultural context. Briggs and Burke is intentional in showing that new communication media (technology) does not replace the old media (print). They coexist to complement the sharing of information. It is quite amazing that the authors used black and white illustrations but never referenced newer communications like CD, DVD or website resources.

Peter Burke focused on the introduction and Chapters 2 and 3 to highlight the early-modern era of communications. Asa Briggs in Chapters 4 to 8 focuses on the evolution in technologies of communications in the modern era. However, neither spoke much about social consequences and this is very important. With our desire to evolve, we shifted from oral to written to visual communication. Just a few days ago, I needed to reach my son at home and I sent a message to his to screen. While that method worked, I could have called him. As we, transition from oral to written, we are also replacing face-to-face with technology.

The Media Tells You How They Want You To Think

images (8)Since this is more a social historian digest and not a sociology print, we can see why the authors never focused on how communication media (newspaper, radio, internet, TV, etc) can transform social practices. There is a common trend in social practices and communications. Think about it, there is a book on how to do everything. Almost anything random can be searched on the internet. In fact, I just searched “how to stay awake” and found 12,200,000 results in 0.39 seconds.

I love the fact that the internet provides global freedom but there are also consequences with such freedom. There are probably 1,000 people living in my complex and yet I know less than 10 of them by name. However, I have 5,000 friends on Facebook. If I were to lose technology, I would be left with the people in my complex and I would have to determine the merits. I have been living in my complex almost a year and my neighbor who lives behind me asked if we just moved in the area.

Am I finding ways to discredit the writings? No, I am showing how the authors use information to convict me of quickly embracing technology without considering the social consequences.


[1] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding and sharing. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, p. 6

About the Author

Garfield Harvey

Garfield O. Harvey devotes himself to studies in cultural intelligence (CQ), global leadership and cultural anthropology. During his doctoral studies at George Fox University, he developed CQ Worship to help ministry leaders manage the tension of leading corporate worship with cultural intelligence. His research on worship brings a fresh perspective that suggests corporate worship begins the moment a church engages a community.

4 responses to “Thought About The Social Consequences?”

  1. Marc Andresen says:


    With the exponential increase of text-type communication; just typing without hearing a voice, do you have any idea how to convince people, especially younger people, that actual conversations are a good thing?

    Do you think the typing-only communication makes us more isolated and lonely?

  2. Claire Appiah says:

    A very clever and creative post! How refreshing to hear the young folks being concerned about the social consequences of the media, especially a professional musician. As a minister of music in your church, how has God been using you to reach a media crazed culture in the church and without? How have your God given talents in music been instrumental in anchoring the Youth in Christian principles and ideals?

  3. Aaron Cole says:


    Great blog! I really liked how you showed the power, or lack thereof of social media. I completely agree about how freedom of places like the internet are a two way street. Very convicting. Do you think at some point with the lack of physical friendship as opposed to “virtual” friendship that there will be a backlash with social media?


  4. Great read, Garfield! I was captivated by your statement, “Convenience sometimes comes with consequences.” Very true! How many times do we settle for convenience without ever forming community – without ever forming compassion?

    As I grieve over the loss of so many in Paris, I’m drawn back to the reality of our apathetic society – a society that hashtags before they hug – a society that is socially inept in a world of social communication. During the aftermath of 9/11, our lives paused. We all stopped and took notice of those beside us – we reached out and communicated with strangers, because we still were a people compelled by compassion. “There was indeed, a wave of sympathy for the American people. ‘Nous sommes tous Americains’, declared Le Monde in Paris. In Warsaw, candles were lit outside the American embassy and masses were held” (Burke, 290). The attacks on 9/11 engaged every country in communication, compassion and unity. However, why has social media changed our interactions? How did we become dull to the realities of this world and entranced with the fantasies of Facebook?

    Dead bodies are still lingering in the minds of those in the Paris streets – the terror stilling striking them to the core – but we want to move on – we want to move forward with the latest trend on Twitter and Reddit. How? How did we become a room full of automatons with the façade of humanity? When did we lose the ability to communicate and care?

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